The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Knee osteoarthritis and pain: data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative and their implications for reconstructing past quality of life


Anthropology, San Jose State University

Thursday 9:15-9:30, 200ABC Add to calendar

Osteoarthritis is the most common bone pathology found in the bioarchaeological record. How pathologies affected individuals in the past is of interest to anthropologists trying to reconstruct past lives. This study examines pain intensity in relation to anthropometric measurements, such as body mass index, and osteoarthritis severity. If pain increases with body mass index, then past populations may not have experienced pain as severely as modern populations since body mass has increased over time. Data for the analyses are from the OAI public use data set. The current study uses nearly 5000 individuals from OAI to aid in understanding pain. Pain was recorded on a patient-reported ten point scale. All individuals were diagnosed as having knee osteoarthritis; knee osteoarthritis severity was based on a three point scale of osteophyte formation. Body mass index was based on a height to weight ratio and values were placed in four categories (1 < 18.50, underweight; 2 = 18.50–25.00, normal weight; 3 = 25.01–30.00, overweight; 4 > 30.00, obese). Pain severity increased in individuals with higher body mass indices (chi-square = 135.58, P < 0.001). This relationship was also found within each osteophyte category (Mantel-Haenszel chi-squares ranging from 8.05 to 86.16, Ps < 0.01). These results suggest that an increase in body mass index causes an increase in knee osteoarthritis pain even when controlling for the severity of the osteoarthritis and, thereby, the results imply that individuals afflicted with osteoarthritis in the past may have experienced less pain than modern individuals.

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